Last October, staff writer Art Pine visited six cities across the country and talked with people about the economy and how they were coping with the problems it created for them .
Last month Pine revisted the same cities and interviewed many of the same people. The results of his trip are being outlined in a series which began on Aug. 3 and will end on Aug. 10 with a piece on changing political views. Today Pine concludes his profiles of couples and the changes the recession has made in their lives since October.
John and Karen Barden thought they'd put aside enough for all their moving expenses when John Barden took a new job with a local heating-oil-distributor here last October.
Their old home is nearby Ames, a high-turnover college town, looked salable enough. Their new house here was a bargain. And the estimates from the movers weren't very costly: Mason City is a short 90 miles away.
But the Bardens ran into a snag that John Barden figures has cost them almost $8,000 so far and could have an impact on their financial well-being for several months to come.
The problem: Their old home went on the market just as interest rates began to soar last autumn and mortage money began to dry up. The new contract went through intact, but their old home remained unsold. And the Bradens were caught with two mortages to pay.
The resulting burden, over the next few months almost shattered the Barden's previously tidy financial picture.
To avoid losing their equity and new-home contract, the Bradens had to take out a $10,000 tideover loan -- and pay a 12 percent interest rate that was far higher than either had anticipated.
They ran through $2,000 in savings. And to meet their monthly payments, they had to cut back sharply on day-to-day expenses.
"We've really held to an austere budget," says John Barden, who laments that "If I had to do it over again, I would have rented a place here or else driven to work from Ames each day."
To top it all off, the Bradens ultimately had to settle for $54,250 for their Ames house -- a full $5,500 below what they'd been asking last autumn -- "and it was a dog's race to get that," John Braden admits.
Now just beginning to see some daylingt after a relatively spartan winter, Braden explains that he is "definitely more positive" about his own financial prospects than he was even a few months ago.
"Still, it's going to take us a while," he says. "We're not out of the woods yet." The credit crunch of 1979/80 will be one the Bradens will remember for some time to come.